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“I would think that’s the way they go” – Ajit Agarkar wants India to play both Mohammad Siraj and Shardul Thakur in the bowling attack

Former pacer Ajit Agarkar believes India should stick with the same bowling combination that brought them success in England last year.

The four-pronged pace attack comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj and Shardul Thakur was crucial in India’s wins at Lord’s and the Oval last year.

While Bumrah, who could potentially even lead the side, is a certain inclusion along with Shami, India will have to construct the rest of the bowling unit around the pair.

Apart from Siraj and Thakur, the squad also boasts the experience of Umesh Yadav, as well as the pace and bounce of the uncapped Praisdh Krishna.

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Naming Siraj as one of the most improved bowlers on the circuit, Agarkar said in an interaction organized by Sony Sports:

“Siraj had a really good series last year when India played those four Tests (against England) and he is one of most improved bowlers around at the moment. So I don’t see any reason why Siraj would miss out.”

The right-arm pacer claimed figures of 2-46 and 0-37 in the recently concluded warm-up contest against Leicestershire Foxes.

He is coming on the back of a poor Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign. Siraj claimed only nine wickets in 15 matches at an average of 57.11.

Believing that Siraj’s poor IPL campaign will not affect his form in red-ball cricket by any means, Agarkar said:

“I don’t think Siraj necessarily bowled badly and I don’t think you need to equate IPL to test cricket in England. So, you just see his form in Test cricket in the last 12 months. Even when India played New Zealand at home, he (Siraj) was really good.”

Admitting that he would be surprised if Siraj is not picked as the third seamer for the upcoming Test, Agarkar added:

“I don’t think Siraj necessarily bowled badly and I don’t think you need to equate IPL to test cricket in England. So, you just see his form in Test cricket in the last 12 months. Even when India played New Zealand at home, he (Siraj) was really good.

“And he can do the tough work for you. When the ball is a little bit older can bowl long spells and bowl quick. I would be very surprised if he (Siraj) is not the third seamer.”

Playing in all four of India’s Tests in England last year, Siraj was effective in terms of getting the ball to move off the seam while bowling consistent long spells. He has claimed 14 wickets in the series and could add more to his tally.

“Shardul offers a bit more with the bat at number eight” – Ajit Agarkar

The former Mumbai bowler also vouched for the selection of Shardul Thakur as the fourth bowling option. The all-rounder, who has proven to be an invaluable acquisition, especially in overseas matches, had a tour to remember last year.

The 30-year-old made an impact with both bat and ball in England. Playing in Trent Bridge and The Oval, Thakur picked up a wicket in each of the innings, including the prized scalp of Joe Root on multiple occasions.

He was also key in India’s win in the fourth Test after scoring fifties in both innings.

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Opining that Shardul Thakur can stretch the batting unit and get the ball to swing in English conditions, Agarkar said:

“Shardul offers a bit more with the bat at number eight and if there is likely help for the seamers, then he becomes even more effective. There is some swing and seam on offer.”

Agarkar added:

“So, I would think that’s the way they go. Otherwise, the tail becomes too long, if at eight, you look at someone like Umesh (Yadav) or even Prasidh Krisna is part of the squad. But I think, Shardul will probably make (the cut) if they go with four seamers.”

The rescheduled fifth Test between India and England will take place at Edgbaston, Birmingham from July 1 onwards.


Edited by Arjun Panchadar



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